The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian blew me away. I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the hype. I just needed a good audio book, and when I saw that the audio version of this one was read by the author, I was intrigued. Then I started listening. The story felt so real, like the author had lived through it himself. That’s when I did a little background research, and realized that the novel is semi-autobiographical. Wow! Knowing that made Arnold/ Junior/ Sherman’s story all the more compelling. I love how he tells his story, with humor and self deprecating candor, about himself, his family and friends, his “rez” and his tribe. There was so much darkness, but Alexie also brought the lightness of hope and humor to it. I learned more about life on a reservation than I’d ever known. It is sad, no doubt. I wish I could help in some way…some way that doesn’t end with me looking like Ted the crazy millionaire, of course.And in some small way I could relate, to rural life and poverty, to rising above the low expectations of your community and hungering for more, to rural small school life. I could care less about sports, but I found myself pretty involved even in the chapters about basketball. I cared about the characters, about Arnold, about Gordie, about Rowdy, about Arnold’s parents, and even about the breathtaking Penelope. I want more of this story.
Forget John Green. I want to read everything Sherman Alexie wrote now.
Also, I recommend both the audio version, for Sherman Alexie reading his own book in his own voice (and accent), and the print edition, with its goofy, fun, illuminating cartoons that suit Arnold’s story so perfectly.